The Alleged Blackmail of Carl Pavano: How Doing It Right Trumps Being Quick

In today’s media landscape, the swiftness with which you get your news out is of ever importance. Twitter, Facebook, email, text alerts, mobile app push notifications, and more have been added to a multitude of avenues with which media outlets can get their news to the reader at a moment’s notice.

Sometimes, however, you really need to pause and make sure you’re “doing it right” before hitting the “send” button.

We had an event like that today – one where it would have been simple to blast out our news immediately because it was really that juicy. A story of potential national interest right in our hands – and our hands alone.

We secured the search and seizure affidavit of a Southington man’s, Christain Bedard, home in relation to a blackmail attempt of MLB pitcher, and former Southington High School baseball stand-out, Carl Pavano. No other media outlet had it and, right now while writing this, no other does. We had the nuts, as one would say in poker.

As a digital evangelist myself, I was foaming at the mouth for this story to get online. However, in journalism, especially with stories like this one where sensationalism can run abound when delicacy needs to be in the forefront, speed is not always the most important part of the equation.

We sat in our Executive Conference room – Publisher, Executive Editor, Managing Editor, Newsroom Editors, reporters on the story, and myself – and discussed how the story should be handled. What the headline should be, how the lead should be written, what words to use, what parts of the affidavit to quote, where in the paper it would run, and how to execute our digital news initiatives, were the topics of an almost hour-long debate.

The main point of this story is not what Bedard is claiming – a three-year “physical” and “emotional” relationship with Pavano in high school. The main point is that the Pavano family has contacted the police because they are being harassed by this man and, allegedly, are being asked for monetary compensation for his silence.

At first look, you might think otherwise. But facts are facts and, as a journalist, the facts are the only thing you can go with. There has yet to be any evidence found that Bedard is writing the book he claims to be or that he has a $1.2 million dollar offer for his story. There has been no comment from Carl Pavano one way or in another, at this time, about this situation.

What is factually true is that Bedard’s home was searched. What is true is that the Pavano family feels they are being harassed by this man to the point where the police have to get involved. What is true are the numerous Facebook messages between Bedard and Carl Pavano’s sister about the matter.

We discussed the story and every facet of the execution of it until we had a plan. It was the right thing to do.

Many media outlets make the mistake of trying to be quick when doing it right is the most important part of the job. Today’s technology makes it that much harder to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re executing properly.

There was discussion of where it would go in the paper. There was discussion of where the story would go on our website, how we would make it stand out, what tools we would use once it was finished that night.

We finished the discussion and our Publisher said something about how tomorrow would go once people began reading the story. He hesitated, looked at me and began thinking about the present media landscape and our website.

“I’m sorry, Alex,” he said. “I mean today.”

Read the story here.


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